A man’s journey from giving up engineering job to pioneering education development in 16 countries

Bar Rafeli once said ‘Have the passion, take action and magic will happen’.
Senthil Kumar, who is presently the Program Manager at GESCI (Global e-School and Communities Initiative), an UN initiative is an exemplary for Bar Rafeli’s words. A person who chose passion over profession, who chose to work for education of millions over a huge sum or money.
Senthil worked as an engineer for a decade, gave up his high paying job in 2000 and an approaching career to follow his passion. He calls his first move towards socio-economic development as a ‘drastic shift’ in his career. He devoted himself to education as he firmly believes that education is key to development. From the late nineties onwards, education was beginning to integrate with technology and some organizations were keen to work on this. Senthil found way to his passion through this emergence and took his first move by joining Schoolnet India Ltd., (presently, IL&FS ETS Limited) that worked for bringing technology and education together and worked as project manager and handled the technology deployment for teaching and learning for kinder garden to class 10th students for South India. He then moved to Azim Premji Foundation in 2003 and was responsible for creating over 550 e-learning content modules in 14 languages. The idea was to make education a fun and vibrant ¬†activity through the technology tools. With this e-learning content, in partnership with state education departments, they reached 35 million children across 21,000 school in India by 2008. The learnings that emerged from the e-learning content deployment, teacher traning and technology models have been strongly leveraged and constructed into policy and stratiges development for both state and federal level for integration of technology into education sector.

He achieved new heights when the Indian content was implied on international level in Algeria, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. These countries have approached Government of India and other Development partners to support technology integration into their education sector. In partnership with Governemnt of India and Development partners, Senthil has represented Azim Premji Foundation and supported these countries for tying the stings of education and technology. This acted as a stepping stone for working at the International level. Then he moved to GESCI, an United Nations initiative and assisted Government of Rwanda for holistic approach towards integration of technology into education sector. As part of his efforts, the partnership was signed between Ministry of Education, Rwanda and Azim Premji Foundation with the blessings and endorsement from Government of India to contextualize the e-learning content and deploy it in Rwanda. He continued his work in Africa and supporting many countries for; ICT in Education policy and strategy development, Digital Content Resources development, Teachers Professional Development, Monitoring and Evaluation of ICT in Education initiatives. With the result of deeper engagement in the ICT in Education development and African countries aspiration for the Knowledge Society Development, GESCI has developed the 9 months long blended learning model of Leadership Development Program for Knowledge Society Advancement in Africa. This initiative is implemented by GESCI in partnership with African Union Commission with the funding support from Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland. Presently, the programme is implemented in 16 African countries covering Southern, Eastern, West and North Africa region. They trained Government Leaders started their significant contribution towards shaping up the knowledge Society Advancement in Africa. Senthil presently heads this Leadership Development programme and based at Nairobi, Kenya.

Senthil followed his passion and the magic happened. The magic is seen on those who could only dream of education. A man who set out as an engineer turned out to be one of the pioneers in the education development sector at the global level. A small step in the right direction with lot of zeal can make wonders happen and millions smile.

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